Trinidad and Tobago showed significant educational progress in the latest results of a global test of 15 year olds by the Organization Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The country’s mean score improved by seven points since 2009, the last time it participated in an exam that is conducted every three years.
Overall, the country also fared well compared to its regional peers in this 2015 edition of the OECD’s “Program for International Student Assessment.” Among the 10 Latin American and Caribbean nations tested, it ranked fourth. Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay were the three countries to out-do Trinidad and Tobago, while it beat Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and the Dominican Republic, which came in last out of the 72 nations included in the assessment.
One standout area for Trinidad and Tobago is the performance of the nation’s girls. Throughout the world, among the 15 year olds tested, boys consistently outscore girls. The OECD average is a four-point edge for boys, something the organization calls “a small, but statistically significant difference.” But girls actually did better than boys in Trinidad and Tobago, making it just one of nine countries where this is the case.
The nation has also shown improvement in terms of progress among the worst-performing students. Since 2009, Trinidad and Tobago narrowed the score difference between its top and bottom 10% performers, “as a result of improvements in performance among these countries’ lowest-achieving students,” said the OECD.
While economic data is not available to determine where the bottom 10% come from, it is generally believed that the worst-performing are from the most disadvantaged communities and poorest schools. So it appears as though the nation is helping its most vulnerable make strides towards a better future by providing them with better educational opportunities.
To encourage even more progress, the OECD offered several recommendations to all nations on how to improve student performance in the sciences and the classroom as a whole. For parents, it suggests helping “students become more aware of the range of career opportunities that are made available with training in science and technology.”
For administrators and public officials, in encourages more investment, particularly in areas that have historically lacked the same access to education as the upper class. “For disadvantaged students and those who struggle with science, additional resources — targeted to students or schools with the greatest needs — can make a difference in helping students acquire a baseline level of science literacy and develop a lifelong interest in the subject,” stated the OECD.
It added that, “giving students more opportunities to learn science will help them to learn to ‘think like a scientist’ – a skill that has become all but essential in the 21st century, even if students choose not to work in a science-related career later on.”